You can lead a person to paradise but you cannot force them to have fun. Through many years of guiding and hosting destination fly fishing trips both locally and to remote and exciting fly fishing destinations, I have found that many fly fisherman find themselves in situations and environments that could and should result in fabulous experiences and memories yet the angler goes home angry, frustrated or otherwise unfulfilled. Learning how to enjoy each and every fly-fishing experience has everything to with managing expectations.
The problem usually stems from one source: Most fisherman measure success in dead fish. And many catch and release fly fisherman measure success in numbers of fish in the net. There is nothing wrong with wanting to catch fish… we all do. The mistake is when someone allows his or her catch rate to be the determining factor of how much fun they are having and or whether or not they enjoy themselves. Most people who love fly fishing feel like they have pretty reasonable fishing skills. Additionally they often expect that the fishes feeding behavior and or fish activity should be the same as last time. And because they ‘know what they are doing’, there is also a tendency to blame the fly, the location, the weather or something else when they experience a less than desirable catch rate. There is nothing wrong with this… we all do it but everything changes when we do a couple of things. First we must accurately determine what opportunity the water, fish and weather conditions are offering us. Second, we must properly align our expectations between the current conditions, coupled with our own skill, experience and versatility. Fishing is fishing, and if I determine that the conditions are not optimal or that the situation is outside of my comfort zone, I am most likely going to be o.k. with a lower catch rate.
There is no such thing as the best place to fish. Any place could be a great place to fish even though someone did not catch or see many fish while they were there. Additionally, just because someone caught a lot of fish and had a great time in a given location, doesn’t mean, that location is the best. In short, it is my experience that if someone catches fish here and not there, then they will always believe that ‘here’ is better than there. The most important thing to remember when traveling to any fly fishing destination is that each and every fly fishing destination has something wonderful to offer and each can be amazing in its own right. Every day has the potential to be a banner day and any day can yield very little.
And so it is simple. Do I love to fish, or do I love to catch? Do I enjoy nature and all that it has to offer, or do I only love nature because it is the place in which I can catch a fish? Do I want to go fishing and be angry? Questions easily answered once I ask them.
Go fishing. Enjoy the experience, the people you go with, the environment, and the fact that you had the opportunity to go. Determine why you are going and choose to have a great time. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Have fun!